ANDY WARRINGTON, the 36-year-old who has unexpectedly found himself back in goal for Rotherham United, has outlined his determination to win a new contract and revealed he wants to keep playing into his 40s.
Warrington, who has been recalled following an injury to first-choice goalkeeper Scott Shearer, who is out for six weeks after twisting his knee, will be out of contract at the end of the season.
However, the fans’ favourite said he had no intention of folding up his gloves, stressed he would like to reclaim a regular place and insisted he felt fit enough to carry on playing into his fifth decade.
Speaking ahead of today’s home game with Plymouth Argyle, when promotion-chasing Millers will be targeting their third successive victory, Warrington said his passion for the club and for football remains undimmed.
“I’m really enjoying it at the moment and would love to win a new deal,” said Warrington, whose return has coincided with successive wins against Aldershot (3-0 away) and Morecambe (2-1 at home).
“I still feel I’ve got another few years left in me and I’m not looking to be winding up my career, definitely not.
“I don’t think it’s beyond me (playing into my 40s) and although a lot will obviously depend on fitness and whether I can stay away from injury, I feel fitter now than I did this time last season.
“I also feel much more part of the club, as I did in years gone by, and as opposed to last season.”
Central to Warrington’s contentment has been the arrival of manager Steve Evans.
The former Crawley Town chief, who joined in April, showed faith in the player after he had fallen out of favour under previous manager Andy Scott.
“The gaffer has been fantastic to me,” said Warrington.
“When he came to the club he basically gave me three games to earn a contract for this season and I earned one after two games. He’s been spot-on with me. He shows you respect and I can’t fault him on that.”
Warrington, who made only nine appearances last season, feared a premature end to his Rotherham career under the former regime.
“With the previous manager, I’d have been on my way; there’s no doubt about that,” he added.
“He actually wanted me gone the previous summer, but I said I wasn’t prepared to go.
“I had a year left on my contract and I wasn’t prepared just to sit on my contract, so I went into work every day trying to do my very best to get into the side, knowing full well that I wouldn’t get into the side.
“I felt I didn’t deserve the way I was treated last season but things can change round quickly in football and it’s been totally different with the new gaffer.”
Not that Warrington is taking anything for granted.
The former York City, Doncaster Rovers and Bury shot-stopper knows he is only in the side due to the injury to Shearer and that he must work hard to keep impressing.
“To be honest, I’m just taking it a game at a time,” he said.
“I feel for Scott because he’s been playing really well and we’ve struck up a good friendship.
“It’s a strange situation to be in whenever this sort of thing happens because I’ve always got on well with the ’keepers I’ve worked with over the years, but obviously you want to play for the first team as much as possible.
“Once you’re in the side, you want to stay in the side, and I want to grasp this opportunity as best I can and play as much first-team football as I can.”
Warrington, who has made 180 League appearances for the Millers since signing in 2007, is motivated by another ambition which has remained unchanged since he joined the club.
He wants to help them out of League Two, a status at variance with Rotherham’s ambition and their highly impressive New York Stadium.
“I came to the club to try to help them get promotion and we haven’t got that yet,” said Warrington, whose first professional club was York in 1994 and who helped Doncaster Rovers to the Division Three title in 2003-04, having joined them in 1999.
“We had a slightly inconsistent start to this season but we’ve played well lately and there’s a great feeling about the place.
“The new stadium is fantastic; everybody who comes here, everybody that you speak to from the away teams, is completely in awe of it, and it’s easily a Championship-level stadium.
“We’ve just got to crack on now because we want to get out of this league as soon as possible.”
The win over Morecambe lifted Rotherham into seventh place and into the final play-off position.
They have a game in hand on all of their rivals and are only four points off the automatic spots.
Warrington, whose fine form has earned him a place in the npower League Two Team of the Week, along with team-mate Kari Arnason, is just happy to be part of it once again.
“It’s just great to be back, great to be back playing, and I’m loving every minute of it,” he said.